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British Columbians warned about increase in crypto-asset scams after total of $3.5M lost this year

The BC RCMP, BC Securities Commission (BCSC) and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) are warning folks that fraudsters are adapting and taking their scams to dating sites and social media.

In the first eight months of 2021, British Columbians reported losses of $3.5 million from crypto investment scams – more than triple the amount lost last year according to the CAFC.

The news release explains that only 5% of fraud victims report these incidents to the authorities.

“The recent growth in crypto-related and cyber enabled frauds has not gone unnoticed,” says Supt. Brent Taylor, with the Federal RCMP Financial Integrity Program in BC.

“Doing your homework can go a long way toward protecting your money and investments.”

<who> Photo Credit: 123rf

According to the agencies, some of the ways fraudsters are adapting their techniques include:

  • Using dating sites or other social media to develop a relationship, then bringing up investments and convincing the victim to invest.

  • Identifying the victim’s friends, taking control of their social media accounts while convincing the victim to invest.

  • Researching the victim to tailor their strategy and maximize successful fraud.

  • Claiming they will use the victim’s money to buy digital currencies on their behalf, then cutting off all communication after they receive the funds.

  • Convincing people to give the fraudster remote access to their computer.

<who> Photo Credit: 123rf

“Fraudsters use social media and dating apps to manipulate people looking to make meaningful connections, exploit their victims’ trust, and then defraud them of significant amounts of money,” adds Doug Muir, BCSC’s director of enforcement.

British Columbians who invest in digital currencies can protect themselves by:

  • Buying through registered trading platforms

  • Being cautious of investment solicitations

  • Never sending money or investing based on advice from someone they met through social media or a dating site

  • Resisting the pressure to buy and ignoring the fear of missing out

  • Asking lots of questions. If the fraudsters use inconsistent, jargon-filled explanations or won’t answer your questions, walk away

If you or someone you know falls victim to fraud, contact your local police and the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501.

You can also report fraud online through the Fraud Reporting System or by reporting it to the BC Securities Commission.

Send your comments, news tips, typos, letter to the editor, photos and videos to [email protected].

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